The 8 Skills Students Must Have For The Future

This year’s “The Learning Curve” report from Pearson takes a look at education across the globe. One of the main things the report does is rank the world’s educational systems (which we’ll talk about in a different post). What I find even more interesting is the focus on what skills current students need to meet the ever changing needs of the global market, and some potential ways to address shortcomings in our collective educational systems.

So what are the things that are becoming just as important as the ever-traditional ‘Reading, Writing, and Math’? Take a look below. Do you already incorporate these ideas into all of your classes? Which do you find hardest? Weigh in by leaving a comment below, mentioning @Edudemic on Twitter or leaving your thoughts on our Facebook page.

Necessary Skills For The Future

  1. Leadership
  2. Digital Literacy
  3. Communication
  4. Emotional Intelligence
  5. Entrepreneurship
  6. Global Citizenship
  7. Problem Solving
  8. Team-Working

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  1. Katie

    June 7, 2014 at 11:50 am

    This list really made me think, and in the most part I think you’re right. One major universal knowledge area I would like to suggest as an addition is science literacy.

    And I hope that global citizenship would include an understanding of our history, diverse cultures, art, and a fostering of each person’s creativity and sense of wonder. Because while that last is difficult to include in an infographic, it is essential to interacting with each other, communicating about who we are and who we want to become, and reaching our full human potential globally.

    I’m looking forward to other comments and suggestions, and really enjoy the thought process you launched with this post. Thank you!

  2. Mike10613

    June 8, 2014 at 12:34 pm

    I help students 5000 km away with their studies via Skype. I hope global citizenship includes cross cultural understanding. I think it can not only solve many problems but perhaps prevent wars.

    • Hugh Nicklin

      June 18, 2014 at 6:12 pm

      I would like to do this. How does one get started?

    • Russell Darnley

      August 10, 2014 at 11:51 am

      Cultural literacy, fundamentally skills in inter cultural communication, makes a 9th point. It involves an awareness of ones own culture, a capacity for politeness in the face of the other, and a willingness to move into the third space, that negotiated inter cultural space in transaction with the other, in any setting.

  3. Gary

    June 8, 2014 at 9:56 pm

    Success in the future is largely dependent on having superior interpersonal skills. Despite that fact, the focus of so much education seems to short change the relational skills necessary for problem solving, innovation, team building, conflict management, change management, etc. This is especially true with governments getting more bureaucratic and dense while the future belongs to nimble, efficient systems that can adapt easily to new situations.

    • Sam Naskis

      June 11, 2014 at 1:42 am

      I am in agreement that the skills listed are not necessarily new and I find the order interesting- top billing to Leadership and final listed at Team-Working. Many of the skills also overlap. The idea that communication and relationship building is able to occur through the use of technology is no longer novel yet the possibilities for further development continue to expand. Global citizenry does not now require the ability or resources to travel widely. It will be essential that current and future citizens seek and experience forums in which emotional intelligence is demonstrated. As our communication includes electronic interactions in new proportions, it will be increasingly important for individuals to nurture and develop personal experiences which strengthen relationships and enhance emotional intelligence.

  4. Keith Brennan

    June 9, 2014 at 9:06 am

    Hi Katie,

    thanks for the post, and for highlighting the Pearson report – I’ll be downloading it and taking a look thanks to your post.

    I do question how novel lots of these skills how, and wonder are we doinf a disservice by thinking of them as new.

    Digital Literacy for example, has some new aspects – mainly the tools we are being asked to use. So it has new technical aspects. But the cognitive aspects – the processeing, assessing, judging, the analytical tools, the information based desicisons we make are skills we have sought to develop, impart, and practcie for millenia.

    We may require different technical expertises – navigating search portals, and not card indexes, digital archives and not microfiche, assessing the veracity of tweets, blogs and media feeds rather than the 9 o’clock news, but lots of the cognitiove skills involved are the same as they alwayts were.

    Leadership. Again, not new, and the relationship of business to leadership skills is largely, I;d hazard, the same. What leadership means is contextual, and how businesses define and circumscribe it is alose contextual. And the skills that comprise leadership, in those varied environemnets, are not new. Whether that’s middle management leadership in terms of cost cutting in the retail sectors, or the skills required in, for example, product development as part of a google team.

    Problem solving, global citizenship, all have, at the very least, significiant aspects that are unchanged in terms of the skills required.

    To out it another way, lots of educators feel they can’t teach digital literacy – though we have a lot of ecidence indicating there is a need and opportunity for them to do so. Most educators however, know that they can teach critical literacies, and they do.

    Adressing those ducators, and arguing that their is a need for them to teach the critical literacies they are familiar with in these new contexts may mean we have a better shot at getting them to inculcate good digital literacy in their students. We will be asking them to teach the same critical literacies, using new tools (which is generally what we need to be doing), rather then askeing them to teach what they might consider to be a brand new set of literacies they are not familiar with, also over new tools.

    Rather than asking an old dog to teach new tricks, we are asking them to teach the same tricks. It’s just the hoop that’s different.

  5. Chidinma

    June 9, 2014 at 10:58 am

    This is beautiful! Am actually thinking of writing a paper on library services via skype! Am not thinking of making it a field work as Nigerian libraries are still coming up in provision of e-library services!

  6. Kristi

    June 10, 2014 at 9:58 am

    I think that picking this tiny and undefined list out of the report summary provided by Pearson does the report as a whole a huge disservice. The things people are finding missing in the list are addressed very strongly in the Pearson report: “In recent years it has become increasingly clear that basic reading, writing and arithmetic are not enough. The importance of 21st century non-cognitive skills – broadly defined as abilities important for social interaction – is pronounced.” and “Making sure people are taught the right skills early in their childhood is much more effective than trying to improve skills in adulthood for people who were let down by their school system.” and “There is little evidence that technology alone helps individuals actually develop new skills.” I would recommend that everyone go back and read the report summary provided by Pearson… “Fixing” education for children is clearly paramount; the whole point about those 10 elements is Lesson 6: “Developing countries must teach basic skills more effectively before they start to consider the wider skills agenda. There is little point in investing in pedagogies and technologies to foster 21st century skills, when the basics of numeracy and literacy aren’t in place.”

    • Matt Rigby

      June 21, 2014 at 9:25 pm

      Absolutely exactly right. Well done. Students need basic skills first.

  7. Meghan McKindley

    June 11, 2014 at 9:48 pm

    I am constantly learning and growing thanks to a job that provides ongoing training. I was fortunate to land this situation. My great concern is sending my children to public school. It seems they neglect important skills such as emotional intelligence, global citizenship and leadership. This comprehensive list should be part of every educational plan. I am anxious about the future for these kids of they don’t grasp some of these concepts.

    • Adriana Butnariu

      June 12, 2014 at 5:41 pm

      I agree that public schools are still far away from teaching our kids global citizenship and emotional intelligence in an era of high-speed techonological society.
      Entrepreneurship is a must nowadays at least in Europe and in the case of Spain – where I am living at the moment – this should be the step forward that most of the people should take!
      A good article indeed, thanks for sharing!

  8. Matt

    June 16, 2014 at 6:42 am

    In the future? After all, these skills are needed now.

  9. Kathy

    June 19, 2014 at 12:23 pm

    You forgot one of the most important tools – health and physical literacy. Students need to play, be active keep their bodies healthy or they cannot focus, pay attention, sit still in a chair at a desk to learn!

  10. Kent Harris

    June 23, 2014 at 12:15 am

    Wonderful, but I’m pretty sure kids and young adults acquire these esoteric skills by using critical thinking, possibly the most important skill. The need for Peer Reviewed research seems to have replaced the use of simple logic. Confident logic requires personal research and that requires true ‘mastery’ of reading, writing and arithmetic

    We do our kids a great disservice when we pass them from grade without requiring the ‘mastery at grade level’ of the big three. Millions of kids drop out and graduate every year without these skills, the basic skill needed for success in school and in life. Most schools admit 2/3 of their kids can’t read at the 12th grade level when they graduate,….half barely competent at the 8th grade level. It should be a crime. The inability of our High School graduate to (competently) complete a job application or (quickly) comprehend a new ‘operators manual’ reflects this tragic situation.

    Other skills are needed but ‘mastery’ in the basics, i.e. learning to read with ‘enough’ speed and comprehension that makes it a pleasure, is essential to achieving the rest.

  11. Iris G. Tennison

    July 11, 2014 at 2:11 pm

    All students must have a strong foundation. 21st Century Technology will enhance that journey.

  12. Scott Kutz

    July 15, 2014 at 2:43 pm

    Remember to include “MAKER SKILLS”. As Charles H. Hamm had said in the late 1800s the mind seeks the truth, but the hands find it. The key idea is that the development of hand, eye, and mind are concurrent and mutually reinforcing and that doing real things establishes relevance in academic learning.

  13. Jenine Smith

    July 16, 2014 at 10:51 am

    In Australia we have the Australian Blueprint for Career Development. A national document that provides curriculum direction and activities for Careers Advisers in schools to incorporate learning and experiencing how to develop these very skills. It is just a pity that not all schools see the role of the Careers Adviser as significant enough to provide them with the time to be able to provide these learning opportunities for the students.

  14. Brian Bock

    July 24, 2014 at 7:08 pm

    Very interested in ascertaining the criteria for the ranking od the world’s educational systems.

  15. Brian Bock

    July 24, 2014 at 7:10 pm

    Very interested in ascertaining how the world’s educational systems were ranked.